In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Ido Niv-Ron, CRO at Cloudshare, a former Israeli army soldier that became a startup expert for several companies. Join us for an informative conversation about the uncertainty in the economy for the last quarter of 2022 and 2023 and how you can prepare for it.
If you missed episode 221, check it out here: Why Your Company Needs a Robust Customer Success with Haydar Al-Saad
What You’ll Learn
- It’s never too late to make a career change, be open-minded about it
- Keeping a level head in an uncertain economy for 2023
- Finding opportunities in the economy with the uncertainty
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Show Agenda and Timestamps
- About Ido & Cloudshare [02:54]
- Transitioning from software sales to SAS sales [13:58]
- Lessons learned as a company executive [18:33]
- Forecasting the economy and its impact on Cloudshare [24:09]
- Sam’s Corner [38:04]
Show Introduction [0:05]
Sam Jacobs: Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today on the show we’ve got Ido Niv-Ron, CRO of CloudShare. It’s a great conversation about startup land, leaving the Israeli Defense Force, and ending up as the CRO of a fast-growing company.
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Ido, welcome to the show.
Ido Niv-Ron: Thank you so much, this is exciting.
About Ido & Cloudshare [02:54]
Sam Jacobs: What is CloudShare?
Ido Niv-Ron: We enable our customers to deliver hands-on experiences. If you want people to experience your product, we deliver demos, training, and sandboxing for developers, in a siloed environment, accessed through a simple link via email. We’ve added layers of engagement and interaction. If you want to train people, they link in, they have their own siloed environments, and now you can see their screens in real-time.
You can monitor what they’re doing, share your screen, and walk them through. They can interact, they can raise their hand, contact the instructor directly and ask questions. It’s replacing a classroom where you give people laptops, and they’re interacting with your software, but you can’t see their screens. We’re trying to elevate that experience, and do it in a virtual space.
The biggest benefit is that they can see the analytics afterward. Where they were effective, where did people interact with their software, the process, and how much it costs. They can be cost-effective and efficient when delivering that experience to their customers.
During Covid, I remember the endless hours in virtual conferences where people were talking at me. I’m just watching their screen, they’re walking me through a process. They’re trying to loop me in, but if I can’t feel it for myself, I zone out. That’s what we’re assisting with.
We’ve been around since 2007. In 2017 we kicked off a new approach and changed our direction. Since I joined, our revenues have doubled. That’s what I was brought on to do, pivot and take the company to fast growth.
Sam Jacobs: Who’s the core customer base?
Ido Niv-Ron: We work with trainers, salespeople, solutions engineers, and anyone that needs to enable their customers to feel, experience, and be able to interact with it in a real live environment without actually installing it.
Sam Jacobs: Give us the origin story that led you to be CRO.
Ido Niv-Ron: We moved to Boston when I was four, then back to Israel when I was 11. I was there until after the army. Like other Israelis, I served three years in the army, then I wanted to pursue a career in finance. I moved to New York, went to college, interned, and worked for JP Morgan.
Thought I was going into investment banking. I wanted to make money. It was the mentality of being in the army. I won’t have a life for three years, big deal, I just came off three years where I didn’t have a life, I’ll just work 18 hours a day and get it done. But it wasn’t right for me.
A friend introduced me to the VP at Seeking Alpha. He was looking for someone for ad sales, in the financial category. I said, “I don’t have any sales expertise, but I can train your team on finance, and they’ll help me learn about sales.”
I was there for three years, then BBC, the New York Times, and Defy Media. Growth was insane. At Defy Media, I realized that there was a real need for video. Customers were asking for custom video content and it was the least efficient, most cost-heavy process to produce, so the margins were terrible.
I came across this company revolutionizing the video space and making production at scale more efficient. They were pre-revenue at the time. I was there for five and a half years. We took the revenue from zero to around 9.5 million.
After I left, I was looking for a challenge, something new, then CloudShare came along. It’s been fantastic, I love the team and the product.
Transitioning from ad sales to SAS sales [13:58]
Sam Jacobs: Transitioning from ad sales to software sales isn’t easy for a lot of people. Did you find it difficult to transition?
Ido Niv-Ron: It’s a very different transition. You have to be good with people, you have to care about people, build relationships, be empathetic, and listen.
You have to be skilled at building strong personal connections with people and hope that they choose you over someone else. Then you pivot to tech where it’s 100% different.
Timeframes are different, sales cycles are longer, buys are longer, with annual or multi-year commitments. In advertising, you get a campaign, and it runs for a couple of months, and you start your sale all over again.
I found SaaS sales to be more interesting and easier to forecast. It’s easier to keep a finger on the pulse to know what the trajectory is.
Lessons learned as a company executive [18:33]
Sam Jacobs: What have you learned about leadership in a high-growth company?
Ido Niv-Ron: What’s enticing about working in a small company is you have to embrace the chaos. Things pop up all the time. It’s taking on more responsibility, being okay with that chaos, staying positive, and being teamwork oriented. The biggest key for leadership in a small company is to think about it like a sports team. Every player matters to winning as a team.
In a small company, hiring the right people, how you structure your interaction, and your communication within that team make a huge impact.
Sam Jacobs: Have you developed a systematic hiring or interviewing process?
Ido Niv-Ron: People can be great interviewers and not great employees. It’s a balance of looking at experience and asking questions that are situational, not “tell me your strengths and weaknesses.” More like, “give me an example of a time when you did this and how you dealt with it?” Talk to the person. Do you see yourself working closely with them? Do they seem like they fit into the company culture?
It doesn’t only have to be you as the hiring manager having the conversation. Go off the beaten path if you need to.
Forecasting the economy and its impact on Cloudshare [24:09]
Sam Jacobs: How are you managing your team right now? How are you thinking about forecasting? What’s your perspective on the economy and how that translates to the growth trajectory for CloudShare?
Ido Niv-Ron: I follow the markets closely. I read tons of publications. I’ve been raising the red flag since October 2021. I have friends who are heavily invested in the market. It was so exuberant this time that everyone lost their northern star. Even when things started to get worse and all the indicators were flashing, everyone said, “this time it’s different.” The value of the dollar is going to get crushed if you keep printing money, and at some point, you have to raise interest rates. It was very predictable.
We’re in uncharted territory financially. The Fed has never carried a $9 trillion deficit. We’re already in a technical recession. Two consecutive quarters of declining GDP. We’re tightening into a recession that also has massive debt.
CloudShare is part of my overall perspective on the market because we’re directly affected. There’s a shitstorm happening right now in the world, the gas pipeline, Ukraine, and China’s economic collapse with their real estate development.
How sticky is this inflation going to be? I think that we’ve seen a negative speculative hit on the stock market. I don’t think that we’ve gotten to the point where companies have really shown bad earnings yet.
The tech world has been in this exuberant environment for a long time. Startups have never been in a bad market, really. They had a tiny little bear market during Covid. Then liquidity came back, VCs were investing, and companies raising $30-50 million on round A.
Tech companies haven’t planned for this, and they’ve never been financially responsible. There are 16 different soft serve flavors in their lounge or massive offices with big windows and shiny marble floors. VCs are not going to spend on growth, they’ll look at margins, bottom line, and sustainability.
There are two things that help you as a company to get through a tough economy. One is having a product or service that is related to people’s core operations. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Companies can’t get rid of necessities quickly. If you have a product and you need people to experience your product, or you need them to be trained on a new feature, it’s directly tied to your value proposition to have them experience it.
Two, we’re in efficiency play. Companies that used to fly people to their offices and have a million training classes, they can’t afford that right now. They’re trying to do as much with as little as possible. That’s where we fall in. Do this remotely, do it globally and effectively. Give people hands-on experiences in the comfort of their homes.
Our customers say “we’ve been able to save money,” and any company that delivers efficiency through economic hardships is going to be more valuable for customers.
We’re not VC-backed at the moment. We’re privately owned. We don’t have to generate ridiculous growth. We’re efficient and lean, growing as a company, and we’ve done it for years. We have the product and the know-how. We are fundamentally sound. That’s a huge advantage.
SamJacobs: If folks want to reach out, what’s the best way to get in touch?
Ido Niv-Ron: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam’s Corner [38:04]
Sam Jacobs: Sam’s Corner, loved that conversation. What are some takeaways? One is don’t ever tell yourself that you can’t make a career change. He worked at JP Morgan, then found his way into ad sales and into media working for the New York Times and the BBC. From ad sales, into SaaS. Now he’s the CRO.
Sales are sales. If you’re committed to learning and developing, you can do it. The main thing is believing in yourself. You can change the trajectory of your career.
We talked about the economy and the markets, which tend to be predictors of the future. It’s going to be a rough couple of months, probably a rough 2023, or at least the first half. The main thing I would share with you is it’s about your mindset. There’s opportunity. There were more millionaires created during the Great Recession than in any other period in US history. There’s opportunity in challenge.
People still buy stuff, people still need stuff. This is about looking outwards and finding opportunities.
Email me at email@example.com.
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